Mark Hird, the founder and managing director of the Sunderland-based Tavistock Hospitality Group, has passed away after a long battle with cancer.
Mr Hird, 47, was widely known throughout the hospitality, distillery and brewery industry as an energetic leader who was passionate about driving innovation and new ideas.
His company described him as a “pioneer of the catering industry”.
Mr Hird worked in various restaurants before opening the award-winning 11 Tavistock Place restaurant with his wife Nicola in 2000.
Over the next 19 years, the duo opened and renovated more than 30 properties in the North East under different brands, such as Tavistock Italia, Sonnet 43 Gastro Pubs, Tavistock Thai China, Italian Farmhouse and the flagship Roker Hotel.
After finding inspiration in locally sourced produce, Mr Hird set up a micro-brewery in early 2015 so he could brew his own craft beer, which led to the development of S43 Brewery (Formerly Sonnet 43).
Poetic License Distillery was developed in 2015 in an expanding market and the distillery has continued to grow with major contracts in place with supermarkets and pub chains.
Jonathan Graham, operations director at the Tavistock Group, said Mr Hird made many everlasting friendships through his wonderful charisma, energy for life and kindness. He leaves behind his wife and three children.
“I am deeply saddened to announce the passing of Mark, he was a true inspiration. I have a lost a best friend of 30 years and the world has lost a wonderful man.”